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Center for Teaching Excellence


Graduate Teaching Assistant

Pedagogy Workshops and Events

In our effort to help keep faculty at the forefront of the ever evolving understanding of how students learn and what types of best practices good teachers should engage in, the CTE offers workshops and events that give faculty the building blocks they need in order to engage their students and design good courses that foster student learning.

Click on the "+" sign next to each event to see description.


August 2018

Courses with a large number of students are intended to be an efficient (and cost effective) means of delivering material.  Typically delivered in a lecture format, these large courses share many features with courses of lower enrollment.  However, the larger class size often seems impersonal and students may not connect with the material or the instructor.  We will discuss methods by which you can enhance your delivery of material and also increase the likelihood your students will meet you half-way resulting in a better experience for everyone. Register

Employability after college graduation has become an increasing topic of conversation for all involved in higher education. Faculty at USC play an integral part in fostering skills to best prepare students for the world of work. In this session, we will go over the Career Center’s employability model that incorporates Career Planning, Relationships, Experience, Academic knowledge, Transferable skills, and Emotional intelligence. In addition, we will discuss how you can incorporate the six components (CREATE) of employability into your classroom to enhance student learning and success. We will also discuss the importance of experiential learning and share what it looks like at USC. Lastly, we will provide resources that are available for you and your students to use to make the most of their professional experience.  Register

Clearly articulating classroom expectations helps to set the foundation for a mutually beneficial course. Research shows that persistence and retention is connected to student's sense of belonging. Furthermore, students who engage in quality interactions with faculty are retained at a higher rate (Astin 1977, 1993). As a faculty member, it is important to assist in developing this sense of belonging and aid in students persistence and retention. This session will cover pedagogical strategies and ways to negotiate positive norms within your classroom to assist you in developing a meaningful academic environment.  Register

A whole generation of students has been labeled as "Entitled," and seeming lacks the resilience to do what is required to successfully navigate college without significant support from parents, administrators, professors and college staff.  Understanding the cultural and generational that have contributed to their perspective can help us gain a new perspective as well. Participants will walk through common scenarios with contemporary college students in ways that help us to keep our cool and support them into adulating success.  Register

September 2018

In order to teach students to “learn to learn,” the focus of education has shifted towards maximizing the quality of student-instructor contact time and emphasizing application of knowledge and skills in the classroom. Want to learn how to incorporate active learning from the ground up – the do’s, don’ts and best practices? This interactive workshop will provide perspectives on successful integration of active learning strategies in the classroom along with a brief discussion of perceived obstacles, solutions, and examples of active learning methods. Participants will have the opportunity to create a plan for incorporating specific strategies, techniques or tools into their teaching.  Register

The last thing we want to hear from students is that the content we’ve taught them wasn’t relevant or meaningful. Moreover, we’d like for them to retain course content beyond tests and assessments, but helping students see valuable connections between classroom learning and their “everyday,” “real world” lives can seem daunting. However, as the authors of "How Learning Works" suggest, helping students make more connections between current course content and previous courses and their lives outside of class helps both concretize learning and understand its relevance to the world around them.

In this interactive workshop, you will learn how to use concrete reflection strategies to help students make connections between course content and the world around them and discuss how to leverage and modify reflection strategies to suit course material and assignments.  Register

All instructors must assess (i.e. grade) student work. Yet how to grade objectively involves fundamentally important considerations and strategies, many of which instructors have not examined thoroughly. What is your “grading philosophy” for the course - do you grade on a curve (and why)? How will you ensure consistency, fairness, and objectivity, while at the same time remaining efficient? How can you ensure grades provide constructive feedback?

Determining these aspects of grading is vital in ensuring fair, objective assessment of student work. Participants will learn about these and other considerations, determine their own grading philosophy and effective strategies through comparison and discussion with other participants and course examples.  Register

This workshop is designed to provide all who teach the opportunity to learn more about the academic requirements, achievements, accountability and expectations of  student-athletes. It will also provide those who teach resources and tips to ensure that student-athletes are engaged in their academic learning and the support available to faculty while teaching student-athletes.  Register

Creating an environment of integrity within the classroom truly takes a village. Faculty, administrators, and students all play a role in maintaining an ethical campus community. This workshop will explore preventative tools to address classroom roadblocks.  Register

In 1956, Benjamin S. Bloom and his associates published a framework for reasons that included the establishment of congruence between learning expectations and assessment of learning. This contribution became highly visible in the education community as a hierarchy displayed in a triangular diagram. Many years later, scholars whom Bloom mentored developed a more robust framework, known as the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, to capture the complexities of teaching and learning. Participants will consider an overview of this matrix to reflect on their planning, teaching, and assessment activities. There will be opportunity to apply use of the matrix to at least one course objective and assessment. So, participants are encouraged to bring a course syllabus.  Register

This workshop will present a series of Metacognition Mini-Lecture learning modules that introduce principles of brain science and how human memory works. The mini-lectures can be incorporated into courses in any discipline. They present evidence-based learning strategies and explain why those learning strategies work in light of the brain's design. We know a lot about how the human brain works to store and recall memories during the process of learning. These principles of brain science can be applied to teaching, learning, note-taking, studying and test-taking. This process of 'thinking about thinking' is known as metacognition. Both instructors and students need to be familiar with metacognition, which can help us align learning activities and practices with how our brains work. Metacognition can encourage us to use evidence-based practices that are more effective because they are based on the science of learning and take advantage of how the brain learns. This doesn't make studying and learning easier, learning is always hard, but it can make the time spent studying more effective so that the same amount of time spent learning can lead to better learning results.  Register

Do you ever wonder if you could do more to help students master the content in your courses? Do you wish you knew how to increase student engagement and understanding in your classes? In this interactive and high-energy workshop, participants will experience first-hand the impact simple instructional strategies have on student engagement. Participants will analyze two model lessons to uncover best practices in strategically constructing student understanding. The session will conclude with participants applying the strategies modeled throughout the workshop and an informal question-and-answer session.  Register

During your attempts to engage students in discussions and thoughtful interactions, do you consider the nature of questions that you ask? During this interactive workshop, the presenter will provide an overview of divergent and convergent questioning strategies that can be used to engage your students in a more effective manner. Drawing from research on pedagogy, there will be opportunities for participants to develop and practice questioning strategies that they can use in their respective courses.  Register

October 2018

Assessments and exams test student comprehension of the material but can serve many valuable functions. While assessments tend to be what motivates students to study, they provide information to the instructor regarding what additional learning needs to occur and should be crafted to guide the student through meaningful, deep learning. Effective assessments should engage student learning in “real time” while ensuring that they are measurable and directly linked to specific learning outcomes.

Considerations in developing assessments include:

  • What level of knowledge are you assessing, and how do you assess that level effectively?
  • Does it provide equal opportunity for students of different learning abilities to show their learning and skill development?
  • Do the questions actually address what you are trying to evaluate?

Such considerations will be discussed in this workshop, highlighting strategies that effectively and objectively measure learning, along with pros and cons of different types of questions and practice in doing so.  Register

It has almost become a truism in higher education 'We aim to increase critical thinking skills.' Or perhaps, 'We want students to be change agents.' Yet, how do instructors actually do this? What does this look like in different disciplines? How does this inform actual practice?

In this interactive workshop, Darin Freeburg will walk participants through a Knowledge Lens for instruction. This lens is intended to change how instructors see their classrooms and the students within them. As with any camera lens, it corrects for inaccuracies in the picture. When this picture comes through more clearly, critical thinking and innovation can occur within the classroom. Instead of waiting for students to be change agents when they graduate, we ask them to do it while they're here.

Questions include:

  • What does it mean to see classrooms as complex systems?
  • What does it mean to see students as creative and autonomous agents?
  • What is the importance of conversation and dialogue?
  • How can instructors inspire student action?
  • Can we turn classrooms into Communities of Practice?  Register

In this session we will discuss the academic misconduct trends we are seeing online and in person with our students. Additionally, we will discuss how to identify and address these common violations while maintaining a productive instructor/student relationship.  Register

All USC faculty, instructors and graduate teaching assistants are invited to participate in the ninth annual Oktoberbest: A Symposium on Teaching on Friday, October 12, 2018. Join colleagues from across USC campuses for this free one-day symposium focused on sharing best practices in teaching.

The Oktoberbest schedule has a wide variety of workshops on topics ranging from active learning and online course development to critical thinking and integrative learning. The event will include:

  • Breakfast with our keynote speaker, Pamela E. Barnett
  • Panel discussion on the 'Implications of the Horizon Report' facilitated by Debbie Yoho, a doctoral candidate in Library and Information Sciences
  • Choice of Concurrent Sessions presented by your colleagues at USC
  • Closing reception featuring door prizes and traditional Oktoberfest fare

Oktoberbest is free to all who teach or support teaching at USC, but is not open to the general public.  Register

Existing scholarship on co-teaching lauds its virtues within university contexts. While it manifests itself through multiple formats, participating faculty members and graduate teaching assistants must consider resources and contexts to which it might be applied. In this interactive workshop, the presenters will engage participants in a “lived experience” and present 3- 4 models of co- teaching. There will be multiple opportunities for discussions and questions throughout and at the end of the presentation.  Register

We invite faculty, staff, and students to join us for a interesting discussion on how to have open and mutually respected conversations in the classroom. In this workshop, students, faculty and staff will explore expectations on classroom discussion, especially when the topic may be one where there are many opposing viewpoints. We hope to help find common ground on how we converse and engage with one another respectfully. We value your opinion, and hope that you’ll join this lively discussion with facilitators and participants. We’ll have a free lunch for everyone!  Register

You'll feel more comfortable using copyrighted material when you know what you can and can't do. Come explore how to use copyrighted materials in instruction, including posting copyrighted materials to Blackboard. We will also discuss the practical application of Fair Use and examine how the library can assist you with posting materials for your class.  Register

Tired of looking out at a classroom full of glazed-over stares? Do "snores happen"? You CAN push students out of their comfort zone and pull them right into the learning process. Join us for this fun and fast-paced session in which you will learn how to set the stage for student engagement, integrate active learning techniques into your courses, and get your students involved in the learning process.  Register

November 2018

Are you interested in exploring ways that you can implement more integrative learning concepts and reflective writing into your courses? Are you interested in learning more about the principles of integrative learning? The increasing emphasis on integrative and experiential learning in higher education illuminates the opportunities for academic disciplines to support students’ synthesis of course concepts and their application into real-world settings.

In this interactive, hands-on workshop, the presenters will provide proven examples for guiding reflection in their classes. Participants will then consider their own curricula/courses and how they can introduce concepts of integrative learning through reflection-based assignments to help students articulate the significance of their within and beyond the classroom experiences throughout their college career.  Register

Open Educational Resources (OER), teaching tools that can be customized by faculty and freely-accessed by students, have proven to positively impact student success. This interactive workshop will provide an overview of OER and other affordable course materials. Participants will practice locating OER, evaluating free resources, and interpreting copyright permissions. In addition, attendees will discover resources and techniques for modifying and creating open course content. This workshop will conclude with an overview of affordable learning services offered through the library and will include time for participant discussion.  Register

Engaging in conflict is challenging whether you are an experienced instructor or new to your role. A likely strategy is to ignore the behavior due to our own discomfort, concern over retaliation or fear that our intervention may cause more harm or disruption. Through case study examples this workshop will explore Gerald Amada's research from Coping with Misconduct in the College Classroom and provide participants with tangible strategies to disruptive behavior in a confident and fair manner.  Register